A heartfelt thank you to everyone involved in the making of the television, radio, and print public service announcements, and to those in the media who will present them to the public!
Our deep appreciation to everyone at Zig, including:
... and Industry Films:
Sophia Peckan & Tina Petridis
November 19, 2003
public service announcements
slick television and radio ad campaign ..."
Since launching our web site in 2001, publishing our book, Just Married , and embarking on speaking tours and engagements, we have found support for equal marriage in many parts of society, including, but not limited to: universities, unions, faith communities, politicians, small-businesses, corporations, grass-roots organizations and activists.
But this email was different. It came with an offer from an advertising agency called Zig: "... we'd really like to help you guys affect some change."
It took only a few seconds to realize a golden opportunity had arrived. The award-winning talent at Zig had delivered many memorable commercials (check out their website!) .
Over this past summer we spent time working with Zig's on this important project, led by Hayes Steinberg and Craig Brownrigg. We examined various ideas for a campaign that encompassed print, radio, and television media. We discussed issues, reviewed scripts and proposals, and began forming alliances with other groups, including PFLAG Canada and Industry Films, in order to achieve our ambitious plans.
Three radio and television spots were envisioned. The plan was to use a single idea or notion in all of them.
"The same-sex marriage spots are intended to illustrate the fact that couples, gay or straight, face the same issues in relationships, both good and bad," says today's press release from Zig and Industry Films, the world-renowned company (also award-winning) that produced the public service announcements. "The net effect is to underline the point that sexual orientation does not separate us as human beings and should not be a factor in whether or not one chooses to marry."
Finally near the end of September, preparations had advanced far enough to begin the process of auditioning actors for the three television spots.
Michael Stevenson's casting agency Fade To Black, worked with Craig and Hayes to find the right actors. Black and white photos of all the prospective actors were taken and the actors were run through a series of auditions and then videotaped for later review before a final selection was made.
Sophia Peckan, head of production at Industry Films, was also on hand with books full of houses that were available in the Toronto area for on-location filming. The homes had to be big enough to accommodate a large crew and flexible enough to deliver four different "sets" for the three spots. We needed a kitchen, a dining room, and two bedrooms.
By the end of September, the location and talent had been confirmed, so on October 2, cast and crew invaded a quiet neighborhood in Toronto's east-end.
Filming began early on a crisp morning, an election day for the Ontario provincial government. We arrived late on location, which opened around 7:00 a.m., because we had waited for voting polls to open. With our civic duty done, we joined the work in progress.
Outside the house where the filming was taking place, trucks lined the street, providing power generation for the lights and equipment, washrooms, dressing rooms/offices, catering services, etc. Tents had been erected on the lawn, serving as outdoor offices. One side of the house had been covered in scaffolding and black curtains to block out the light for "night" shots. On the other side of the house, huge lights shown through windows to give an extra boost to the fall sunshine for those shots meant to occur during the "day".
The first spot to be filmed was called Parents. "This commercial takes place inside a dining room of an above-average income home," says the Parents treatment by Craig and Hayes. "The people who own the home aren't rich but they're comfortable / well-off ... two married couples, in their mid-60s, are sitting at the table. Neatly strewn across the table are books, magazines, paper, pens and fabric samples - all the stuff you'd need to plan a wedding."
The shooting schedule for "Parents" took up the entire morning, from 7:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Cinematographer Barry Parrell had the camera hooked up to a device known as a "pee wee": a dolly that hung the camera from bungee cords. The effect on film was a very slight movement that gave the impression that the heavy camera was hand-held.
After the shooting was finished, Roz Michaels, the actress who plays the dark-haired mother in "Parents" expressed her gratitude for the work that was being done on behalf of equal marriage. She had dearly hoped to land the part she played in the public service announcement, she said. Her son had killed himself, leaving a note behind explaining that he was unable to deal with being gay. It was too late to help her son, Roz said, but not too late to help others. Later, Roz wrote to us to tell us of a web site, Remembering Bruce, that serves as a memorial to her son.
The dedication and motivation of everyone on this project was outstanding and the atmosphere on location was electric. One spot was done, and the crew quickly reassembled after lunch to begin working on "Blanket".
"This commercial takes place at three in the morning inside a couple's bedroom. It's extremely quiet", the Blanket treatment says. "It's extremely dark. The only light in the room is from the street light coming through the window - just enough light to see two people in bed. The bedroom is lived in and completely normal, although we won't see much of it. We'll be slightly overhead so we can see the people lying in bed."
has a bed been made with such care, to look slept in. The new sheets still had
there just-from-the-store folds in them, so someone ironed out the folds. Pillows
were arranged just right and a process, involving safety pins, was designed to
allow the covers to move across the bed and settle in a predictable manner, thus
allowing Barry to get his shot. Meanwhile, Media Television had arrived
on the scene to film the work in progress and do some interviews. Through it all,
the actors, stripped down to underwear and pajamas, kept their positions in bed,
and dignity intact, while crew and media jostled around them.
The final spot of the day, "Bedroom", was filmed in the master-bedroom of the house. "It's dark outside," says the Bedroom treatment. "We deduce it's bedtime- ish ... we see a woman inside the bedroom ... She is full of anguish. She's not fed up, belligerent or irate. In other words, there's no yelling. She is, however, bothered and she needs to get this off her chest. She's having a one-sided disagreement."
"Bedroom" turned out to be the most dramatic moment filmed that day. It featured Jennifer Gould, fresh from her starring role in Stratford's Gigi. Jennifer brought an intensity to the role that captured the attention of this seasoned crew, most of whom had crowded around as close as possible to watch the artistry at work.
Everyone ended the day exhausted, but happy, knowing something special had been captured in the three spots.
With the filming completed, we moved on to the next stage of production: editing. Zig's Christine Harron helped explain this production process to us. "Once the spot is shot, the film is processed through a lab and the footage is then supplied to the editor on videotape in order to keep the negative intact until the cut is approved. The editor works with the creative team to come up with the best cut."
Hubert Davis, at Panic & Bob, brought his expertise and enthusiasm to the process, working with Craig and Hayes to deliver the final edit.
"The transfer involves returning to the original film and colour correcting each of the scenes that are on the client-approved cut," Christine explained. "The Art Director works with the colourist to establish a consistent look throughout the spot (generally enhancing the colours overall and enhancing the colours of the product). At the transfer stage, you can also blow up, reduce, or shift scenes around if necessary. These open-ended scenes are then laid down onto a digital videotape and ready for final picture assembly, or, the conform."
This computer driven process was conducted by Bill Ferwerda at Notch, with Craig and Hayes, and the Editor Hubert. Like a master musician at his keyboards, Bill worked magic on the spots, adding atmosphere and colour with his fine touch.
"The conform is the final approval of picture - colours, position and size of supers," Christine elaborated. "The conform is another rather technical process, but towards the end of the conform session we have the client attend to provide Final Client Approval to Overall Picture."
Greg Dunlop, at Crush, worked the computer equipment in this stage of the process. We agonized over three seconds of film - the final frames where the supers (text) appears on the screen. Size and location was maximized to deliver the final message.
"The final element in the audio portion is the Mix ... Essentially, this is when we mix the audio levels and add any required sound effects [and voice overs]. Final client approval at the audio session indicates that this spot is approved for airing."
The folks at Pirate Radio & Television added sound effects and adjusted the audio mix to compliment the fine work on film. While we were there, we also recorded the three public service announcement for radio. Ben Weinberg (shown above) provided the voice-over tag heard at the end of the television and radio spots: "You know what's wrong with gay marriages?" Tom Goudie directed the voice talent. (more credits to follow as they become available)
The public service announcements were made possible thanks to the participation of:
Credits - Television Public Service Announcements
Credits - Radio Public Service Announcements